PLEASE HELP - hens wont accept certain pullets.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ChickenWisperer, Apr 11, 2009.

  1. ChickenWisperer

    ChickenWisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2008
    KY
    Okay, I desparately need help. Im completely and utterly at my wits end.


    Heres how it began. I used to have 6 hens - (2 rir, 2 wyandottes, 1 australorp, 1 BSL) and one Marans rooster. I had bought 8 babies - (1 sussex, 1 brahma, 1 langshan, 1 faverolle, 2 EEs, 2 cochins).

    Heres how I began to integrate them;

    -Got rid of roo, no matter how good he was. I was afraid he would be aggressive/kill the babies.

    -When the babies turned 3 months old, I took them to visit the hens. Through wire, always supervised.

    -When the babies turned 4 moths, I put them in the hen house with the big birds.

    -Came out to find 2 of my babies had been attacked (brahma and EE #2), one with no rump/back feathers left (EE) and one with quite a few pulled out (Brahma). Didnt witness the attack.

    -Took care of those babes. Built a "brooder box" so the babies would be safe in the night and morning when i wasnt there.

    -Set up a schedual; Go to the hen house, shut the door to our 8x32 run (leaving the hens outside). Take babies out of the brooder; they get the house to theirselves. Let big girls free-range when i get home (3:00 or so). They get to until roost time. Put babies in "brooder" before they come in. Repeat day after day.

    -I thought everything was swell. Let both groups interact without supervision, day & night.

    -Come out to find my brahma baby (who had been sick as a chick, attacked once) had been badly attacked. She died that night. Did not witness the attack.

    -Went back to schedual. Also got rid of 2 RIR, and one wyandotte who i believed to be the instagators of the attack on my precious Ming (brahma) and the aggression.

    -Left it again after visits between big girls and babies. Thought everything would be alright.

    -Came out one moring to find one Easter Egger #1 dead (not the same one who was attacked earlier), who they had pretty much eaten one of the thighs down tho the bone... They had chased her and the Langshan into the run (thats were I found the body and the langshan). I did not witness the attack.

    -Got rid of the BSL who i thought could be the only one left to instigate. Also got rid of one Cochin chick.

    -Had more visits. They give the usual "im dominant im gonna peck you on the head", but also CHASE them just to peck them.

    -I, of course, either kick them, hit them, ect when they chase the babies. I usually hold them on their back and make the babies walk over top of them, or I pretend to "peck" them on the back of the head with my hand.

    -Continued the schedual, but with MUCH more visiting time. Things stayed the same.

    -Bought three hens at a auction today. 3 Easter eggers. They seem to be fairly young, about the same age as some of my older hens. I'd guess 7months-1year. The big girls treated them comletely different; they roosted together tonight. There were some fights for dominance, but no chasing and general foolishness of the such.

    -The new hens got introduced to the babies first. A few displays of dominance, and then they were complete friends! No chasing, no BS, just them being new chicken friends. They didnt single out anyone or anything. They even were eating, drinking, ect together. Perfect friends. Left them ALONE several times. No one had been attacked/feathers missing.




    (I used to have bad management skills. Now i do whatever i can to make sure nobody is bored. Everybody has food & water at all times > didnt use to have a feeder in run for big girls. They get to free-range (babies do for about an hour).)




    Now, why wont my older hens accept my 6 month old pullets, but they will accept these BRAND NEW hens/pullets that I just bought TODAY?!!?!

    Im completely at my wits end. PLEASE tell me what I've done wrong, PLEASE tell me what I can do so my babies can be happy!



    ps-Sorry for the long post. [​IMG]
     
  2. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,156
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    Nov 19, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    There is always a pecking order in a flock. Any introduction of chickens to a flock causes fighting, usually for few days, to establish a new pecking order. For that reason, most people do not introduce smaller-sized pullets or chicks to an adult flock. Or, for example, many people don't put very large chickens with very small chickens because the fighting can result in more severe damage to the smaller chickens. You might want to wait until your pullets are equal sized with the flock before you put them together again. It's tough to deal with... I have empathy for your situation!

    Another thought -- you should make sure there are at least 2 feeders and waterers so the dominant hens don't keep the others away.

    Also, you could give them lots to "do" to distract them from fighting... Some folks tie up cabbage on a string for them to peck at, or put seeds in the bedding so they can spend all day scratching around... stuff like that.

    You could also try giving them stuff to "hide" behind or ways to create more separations in the coop rather than just having a big wide open area.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2009
  3. ChickenWisperer

    ChickenWisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2008
    KY
    Thank you so much. I knew about the pecking order thing, and I've already done everything you said (2 feeders/waterers, cabbage thing - pecking block - scratch with mulch and dead leaves , and sitll have have brooder up in house and logs/brances in run) but it just doesnt seem to work.

    I believe the main problem is because of the difference in size/age. I tried to tell my mother, before we ever tried to move them, that it was too early, and that they would suffer for it - that they needed their own coop untill they were big enough. She ignored me, and we have suffered for that grave mistake.

    Thanks again, for your fast reply.
     
  4. chickenannie

    chickenannie Chillin' With My Peeps

    3,156
    21
    231
    Nov 19, 2007
    Pennsylvania
    Glad to hear that you've tried all those things. As you say, it is probably based on their age and size. I don't think any amount of "training" will work on your hens to try to stop them from attacking the smaller chickens. I believe that type of training is to make roosters submit, but I think hen psychology is completely different.

    Can you wait till they're bigger and then put them back?

    Best of luck.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2009
  5. ChickenWisperer

    ChickenWisperer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2008
    KY
    Yes, I've noticed that; I've tried to train them like I did my last rooster, but it just absolutely does not work in the least, and they still see me as dominant hen.....

    Im going to do that for now, but I think I am going to sell 2 of the older hens, keep my favorite older hen, and proceed from there. I hate to let my girls go, but i know their not happy; they wont even free range, they just run around the house.

    Thanks for your support [​IMG].
     

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